Many individuals with chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, myofascial pain, and back pain cannot gain full relief with the use of prescription medications. Using simple, inexpensive, at-home remedies such as heat therapy, trigger point release, and light exercise can be extremely helpful in the temporary treatment of pain.
Heat therapy can come in many forms such as microwaveable and electric heating pads, portable heat wraps, a hot bath, sauna or steam bath. Electrical stimulation such as a TENS unit can also provide the same benefits.
Most pain occurs from the build up of tension in muscles. This tension causes blood vessels to constrict and decrease blood flow to the area. Heat dilates the blood vessels, allowing more oxygen to flow to the muscles allowing tension to release. Heat also stimulates sensory receptors in the skin, which will decrease the number of “pain signals” being transmitted to the brain. Furthermore, heat makes it easier to lengthen and stretch muscles and connective tissue, reducing stiffness and improving flexibility.
Trigger Point Release
Trigger Point Release is a simple way to release tension in muscles. Trigger points are tender nodules, or bumps, that lie along the muscle fibers. When pressed, there is minimal to severe pain. By pressing on the trigger point for thirty to forty seconds then stretching the muscle, the tension in the muscle can be released. It is best to take deep, controlled breaths while manipulating the tender point to better withstand the pain. The process should be repeated several times a day to be effective.
Light Stretching and Exercise
While stretching and exercise may be the last thing a pain sufferer wants to do, both can be advantageous for relieving pain. Implementing a light program with low-impact exercises is essential. One should not pressure oneself to do a certain number of sets or repetitions. Instead one should listen to one’s body to see how many one can reasonably perform. It is not unusual to feel even worse during the first week or so of an exercise regiment. However, if one can push through the beginning pains, the extra energy and pain relief that can come from having a regular exercise program are extremely beneficial.
One doesn’t have to have the concentration of a Buddhist monk for meditation to be an effective tool. Often the biggest problem for pain sufferers is getting their mind off of their pain. Meditation can provide an effective tool for clearing the mind and concentrating on sounds, sensations or thoughts other than how bad the pain feels. Even if a meditation session only lasts a few minutes, it can help reduce stress, slow breathing and get the sufferer’s mind off the pain long enough to feel a little relief. There are many meditation techniques, but slow, even breathing and concentrating on a stimulus outside of one’s body and thoughts are the common components of any meditation session.
For chronic pain sufferers, finding relief can be a challenge. Using heat therapy, trigger point release, exercise and meditation, along with their doctor’s prescribed treatment plan can result in great relief. Other pain remedies include medication, acupuncture and natural supplements.